Springdale commits to finish trails

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 129 views 

Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse recently admitted the city is playing catch-up with its neighbors Fayetteville and Bentonville in providing trail access to its residents.


“My own three kids go to Fayetteville to utilize trails there as do many other Springdale residents. We know a good trail system enhances the quality of life and it’s time for Springdale to have its own.” Sprouse said.

Springdale is the fastest growing city in the region, boasting a population of nearly 70,000 at last count, but lacks a major trail system of its own to connect downtown with its residential neighborhoods, schools and parks.

Sprouse said the Razorback Greenway project is a great catalyst to help Springdale get its trail system through stage 1.


“I know Fayetteville and Bentonville are well beyond that level but we are now committed to tying into the regional greenway and also linking together trails that already exist near our schools and parks,” Sprouse said.

The 36-mile Razorback Greenway is a regional bike and pedestrian trail system that will connect the Bella Vista trail in North Bentonville to the Frisco Trail in Fayetteville. The project comes with a $38 million price tag. The regional greenway received a $15 million TIGER II (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery), grant in November 2010. This funding which was part of a federal stimulus program.

The Walton Family Foundation gave $3.75 million and the Arkansas Highway Commission also contributed $855,000 to toward helping cities along the trail route to link up. There are 14.2 miles completed an in use with 21.8 miles in planning or design phase.

The Springdale leg of the regional greenway covers eight miles and runs through the middle of town and along Spring Creek for a winding off-road experience said John McLarty of the Northwest Arkansas Planning Commission.

McLarty said all of the eight-mile trail through Springdale is covered by the TIGER II funding grant, and is just waiting on the approval of the design and engineer plans recently sent to state and federal highway officials..

He said the next step will be negotiating right-of-way easements over the next couple of months.

Springdale’s eight-mile leg will feature board walk along Spring Creek from Johnson Avenue north that is anchored by a park at Shiloh Square in the heart of downtown.

McLarty said the off-road portion of the trail north of downtown Springdale will offer pedestrians and bikers a variety of sights that include green meadow, wooded forest and limestone rock formations.

Springdale received $270,000 from the state highway commission grant which is being used to build a loop from the Jones Center to the trail head at Shiloh Square. The city is providing about $67,500 toward this particular trail, which is not covered by the TIGER II grant.

“We have a unique opportunity because our stage of the regional trail does go through downtown, anchored by the Jones Center and the Shiloh Museum,” Spouse said. “We know trails can also a tremendous amount of economic value to areas they serve.”

While the overall Razorback Greenway is slated for completion by the end of 2013, Spouse and McLarty said some of the Springdale trails will be operational before then.

McLarty said about 80 people attended the Razorback Greenway open house last week in Springdale and public support for the project is growing.

Mayor Sprouse recently spoke about the importance of “quality of life” issues with respect to economic impact.

“When you create an atmosphere where people want to live, where they want to raise their families … an area rich in quality-of-life amenities, the byproduct will be economic development,” he said.

When Sprouse took office a little over three years ago, he wasn’t a great supporter for a city-wide trail system, the mayor said in his recent “State of the City Address.”

“We don’t have to look very far to the north or the south to see what trails can do. I have been made a believer, “ he said. “Quite honestly, the Razorback Greenway has been a gift to Springdale and it’s an opportunity we cannot afford to waste.”

Spouse said the new trail system could be game-changer for Springdale.